Saturday, September 23, 2023

Oware: I got rich in the village after relocating from hard, poor Nairobi life

Various individuals from Kenya relocate from rural regions to urban areas in pursuit of financial success.

However, Rodrick Oware’s experience diverged from the norm as he discovered prosperity in the very village he had left behind.

Having grown up in Nairobi, Oware endured a long period of difficulty and challenges within the bustling city.

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Yet, in 2012, he displayed great courage by returning to his rural roots in Ebusiekwe, Vihiga County.

Beginning a new life, Oware’s unwavering determination and entrepreneurial drive propelled him to establish a thriving business empire, culminating in the ownership of a resort in Emuhaya, Vihiga County.

Life in Nairobi

Despite being renowned for its abundant opportunities, Nairobi presented Oware with a demanding setting.

Coming from a background of poverty, he faced the trials and tribulations that accompanied city life.

Enduring years of relentless effort and challenges, he became disheartened and unsure about his prospects.

Oware characterized Nairobi as an urban landscape devoid of the desired opportunities.

“Nairobi ni shamba la mawe [is a concrete jungle].” Oware reflected on his difficult experiences living in the city during a past interview.

Overwhelmed by these hardships, he made the bold choice to return to his rural origins, yearning for a new beginning and the prospect of unexpected success.

Starting from Scratch in the Village

Upon his return to Ebusiekwe, Oware faced numerous challenges.

With nothing to his name, he was determined to rebuild his life.

“I had nothing, I was a nobody. I was wondering where to start my life now,” Oware said.

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“One of my biggest challenges when I came home was that most of my village mates felt like this man is no more, totally doomed.”

Overcoming the skepticism of his fellow villagers, he decided to pursue the idea of selling seedlings.

Oware established tree nurseries, focusing on popular species such as blue gum, Cyprus, gravellier, and ‘cayaba,’ which were in demand for various purposes, including compound fencing.

From Seedlings to Success 

Oware’s dedication and hard work paid off as his seedling business began to flourish.

With increased demand, he started selling seedlings in large volumes, generating substantial income that supported his livelihood and allowed for further expansion.

To cater to the needs of his customers, Oware opened a small kiosk selling soft drinks, strategically located near his seedling operations.

The kiosk attracted thirsty customers, including families, and provided a steady source of income.

“I opted for soft drinks because you can’t tell whether someone is an alcoholic or not, and some used to come with their families,” he said.

Encouraged by this success, Oware ventured into the food industry by opening an eatery, focusing on local cuisine.

The Birth of Roddy’s Green Lounge Resort 

As Oware’s business ventures continued to prosper, he saw an opportunity to further expand and provide employment opportunities to the local community.

The demand for his services grew, prompting Oware to transform his establishment into a full-fledged hotel, the Roddy-Ecosystem.

Located in Ebuyangu, Emuhaya subcounty, the resort catered to travelers along the Kisumu-Busia highway. Oware’s resort, built on the foundation of his seedling business, became a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

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Its success encouraged Oware to seek collaboration with the Vihiga County government and emphasized the importance of county support in fostering economic growth.

Bamboo Farming

Oware’s entrepreneurial spirit continued to drive him towards new opportunities.

When the county introduced policies promoting bamboo cultivation, he recognized the potential for another profitable business.

Bamboo, known for its versatility and environmental benefits, appealed to Oware’s vision of sustainability.

He invested in bamboo farming and aimed to educate others about the importance of trees and the potential of bamboo as a cash crop.

“What I have now is what I gathered from three seedlings. And for free, I will teach these people here ‘Miti ni mali’ and invest in them,” Oware said.

Oware believed that diversifying economic activities beyond traditional white-collar jobs could create employment opportunities and drive rural development.

“Youths just believe the path of life is going to university then you get a big job, with huge cars and well furnished offices. But these things no longer exist. Open your mind to other activities,” Oware said.

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